Thursday, October 05, 2006

Anecdote of the bull

My wife Kay died in 2002, and both Anna and Eve have expressed interest in Kay's diaries, which are hard to read due to her handwriting--not the best. So I have (very) occasionally been transcribing them. Each year she bought one of these little yearbooks with one blank page for every day of the year, to record her thoughts and the events of her life. Each diary has a good record of January, part of February, and a few entries from March--then nothing until Thanksgiving or Christmas, when she would write about the inevitable outbreak of holiday-season trouble in her large and tumultuous family.

The remainder of each of those years remains a mystery now, with only my hazy and imperfect memory to fill in the gaps.

Anyway, I just ran across this, and readers of my blog who knew Kay might find it interesting, a brief portrait of her as a girl, with maybe a clue of what she would be like as a woman. The entry is from 1989, but she is writing about something much earlier.
If Eve has helped me rediscover my childhood, Anna helped me rediscover my teenage years. She has a yearning to travel that I felt so strongly. "Mom, I just have to go somewhere." she would say, and I can remember saying it in that exact tone of voice with those exact words at exactly the same age. When I said it, at the age of sixteen, my parents, very wisely, found a Church of Christ missionary family, fundamentalists named Mr. and Mrs. Smith who were willing to let me come stay with them on Hacienda Huantepec in the small town of Pabellón, Aguascalientes, in Mexico. I was to teach their children and help with the driving. I had just graduated from high school and I wanted to be on my own so much that I was on the verge of running away.
I took the bus by myself and found the granja [farm], where they lent out their bull for breeding. I'm sure they performed other Christian services, but this was the most popular request. I dutifully drove a large truck with a bellowing bull to remote areas in the state, with Mr. Smith sitting beside me. Mrs. Smith stayed home with the children. It seemed a perfectly normal thing for a sixteen year girl old to be doing. On one occasion, it rained hard and we got stuck in the mud, Mr. Smith put rocks under the rear wheel, the bull bellowed and I gunned it and moved back and forth until I got us out. We moved forward through a rock bed creek after the road ended. We arrived as the sun came out into a place that I have, to this day, not been able to find on a map. The people were there to greet us, lined up in a row with English hymnals in their hand, left by a missionary who had visited them thirty years before. The hymnals were worn and they sang "a Mighty Fortress is our God" in strangely accented English as we walked up the slope with Mr. Smith bringing the bull and me following.

Needless to say, she later went into anthropology.

Kay as a young anthropologist

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